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Property firm slams business rates appeals reform

The business rates appeal process could become more complicated and costly under the government’s plans to reform the system, commercial property agent Colliers International has warned.

The government has stated its aim to make the system quicker, easier and more transparent. It is now analysing feedback from a two-month consultation, and will report its findings at this year’s Budget on March 16. But Colliers said in a letter to Treasury officials that the proposed changes will “severely reduce the rights of ratepayers to challenge their assessments”.

John Webber, head of rating at Colliers, said the current five-year revaluation process has created a ”culture of appeals”. He called for a three-year term, which would be more accurate and reduce the need to appeal.

“Given there is in excess of 289,000 outstanding business rates appeals, it is in everyone’s best interests to reform the system,” said Webber. “But what we mustn’t do is create a scheme that almost prevents a ratepayer from challenging an assessment.”

Its figures show there were 289,640 outstanding appeals by the second quarter of the 2015/16 year, up 30% from 222,540 in 2010/11.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: ”The government is continuing its review of business rates and the views of stakeholders are being considered as part of the review process. The review will be fiscally neutral and will report at Budget 2016.”

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